The Future of Health Care & Social Media

jreed    March 26, 2013

Most of us have adopted Facebook or Twitter into our lives, but what other facets of social media will blossom in the future? Many experts and bloggers are pointing to major advances in social health care applications and platforms.

smartphoneSo, what kinds of things are we talking about? Barbara Pantuso, Director of Healthcare Innovation, frog design shares several ideas. For those too sick to leave home, a mobile doctor, who does house calls could be scheduled for an immediate visit. Immunization reminders could be sent to the inboxes of parents and an appointment scheduled for their children. Daily biometric scans could log personal data and alert your medical facility when data suggesting important body changes are detected, such as indications of heart attacks or stroke. Access to your personal health records could be shared among your family doctor and specialist, giving quick access to blood work and lab results. Much of this information could be used to wirelessly transmit e-prescriptions to your favourite pharmacy.

Pantuso suggests collecting health data from mobile applications, embedded sensors, or other devices offers convenient and personalized information to help people manage their health over time. With clinically based algo­rithms, data visualization, and community sharing, we will receive not just more information, but more meaningful and timely information that is chan­neled better to improve our health.

physician and computer monitorAll this sounds exciting. But what are the risks and barriers? The biggest risks come from the ability to maintain personal privacy and security. Not surprisingly, many players are already coming on the scene with solutions. One such physician network in the US, Doximity, has a three-stage verification process for access and is encrypted to the standard of patient record privacy required by American law. Other companies like Sermo and Canadian Asklepios seek to do the same.

As we move into the future of social media, health care improvements look to be promising. Canadians should anticipate new opportunities for conversation and connection from their health care providers in the very near future.

Lessons for Others:

Those working in health care will need to be concerned with patient confidentiality and maintaining professionalism the way other organizations have learned as they have adopted social media into their everyday.

Those that are to be successful will need to be leaders, willing to be the first on the frontier. They will need to monitor forums and feedback from patients. Success will also come from learning how other industries manage their customers and monitoring.

Web References:

The Future of Health Care is Social

Healthcare Social Media: Time To Get On Board

Take two status updates and call me in the morning…

Social media and Canadian physicians – issues and rules of engagement

Submitted by: Jennifer Reed – SMBP Student University of Waterloo
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